MAC: Mines and Communities

Peruvian Government Approves Doe Run Clean-up Delays: La Oroya Community

Published by MAC on 2006-05-29
Source: La Oroya Press

Peruvian Government approves Doe Run Clean-up Delays: La Oroya Community

Groups Lament 34 More Months of Contamination with Impunity

La Oroya Press

29th May 2006

The Movement for Health of La Oroya (MOSAO) and its Technical Roundtable stated that today's decision by Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines to postpone Doe Run's promised environmental clean-up effectively condemns La Oroya's 10,000 children to 34 more months of excessive air pollution with complete impunity.

The Government announced today in Lima that it would permit Doe Run the aditional time to conform with Peruvian environmental standards as it promised when it purchased the La Oroya smelter in 1997.

"Despite overwhelming evidence of toxic metal contamination and Doe Run?s history of non-compliance with Peruvian law, Minister Sanchez decided to award the company with continued impunity, stated Eliana Ames, Coordinator of MOSAO's Technical Roundtable. "If the company has not complied with its agreements in 9 years, what guarantees its compliance now?"

Even so, MOSAO and its Technical Roundtable noted that, due to the efforts of La Oroya's community-based organizations, the Government was forced to reduce Doe Run's originally requested 4 year delay to 34 months and to impose a number of financial and technical conditions on the company.

MOSAO noted that after 4 previous Doe Run requests for changes and delays in its environmental commitments, this was the first time the Government carried out an extensive evaluation. Earlier changes had been made behind closed doors, allegedly without the technical justification required by Peruvian law.

"After 9 years of Governmental inaction in the face of Doe Run's massive pollution, we are calling for civil society to be allowed to play its rightful role in monitoring Doe Run's compliance during these 34 months. While today's ruling invited citizen participation in the monitoring process, MOSAO was pointedly omitted from the list of "approved organizations", despite its record in providing independent scientific information to help policy makers to make better decisions", noted Ames.

MOSAO's efforts have drawn international attention to the health crisis facing La Oroya's population, where each day the Doe Run smelter spews out more than 1000 tons of toxic emissions. Based on the health risk analysis presented to the Government by Doe Run, U.S. scientist Dr. Mark Chernaik recently calculated the projected cancer rates in La Oroya as being 2000 times higher than the maximum acceptable level, as established by the EPA.

MOSAO is reviewing the 129 page text released yesterday by Peru's Mining Ministry and will present its comments on Wednesday.

MOSAO called on the people of La Oroya to remain vigilant in order to guarantee company compliance with the governmental decision, since it is their lives and health that are at risk.

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